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Emma Seymour ’19: Sports Journalism
Smith basketball player Emma Seymour ’19 was disappointed when her team’s presence in the Division III NCAA tournament this spring received little local news coverage, despite being a historic achievement for the Pioneers. So Seymour collaborated with professors Carrie Baker and Andrew Zimbalist on a Daily Hampshire Gazette article about the media’s role in underplaying women’s sports.
Spurred by the positive response to that piece, Seymour— who is majoring in the study of women and gender—went on to co-author another article with the two professors for Forbes about disparities in treatment of professional male and female athletes. She then published her own article in Ms. Online, “The Danger of Low Pay in the WNBA.” The article included interviews with Tamika Catchings of the Indiana Fever and Sue Bird of the Seattle Storm, and was one of the most popular on the site that week.
Here’s what Seymour had to say about her writing, and her experience as a Smith athlete.
Why did you decide to write about the treatment of women in sports?
“I have a Quigley Fellowship with Professor Baker, which is a year-long Women's Rights Journalism Fellowship. Most of my work has been completing small research projects, but more recently, with college playoff season, the issue of media coverage arose, and we decided to write a piece about it. Professor Zimbalist was a huge help, with his incredible knowledge of the basketball world.”
Why is this topic important to you?
“As a female college basketball player, this work means a lot to me. Initially our idea had been to write about the lack of coverage that Smith's basketball team got during our historic season; we were the second Smith team in history to make the NCAA tournament, and many people on the team broke school records and made historic landmarks in their careers this season. But ultimately we decided to write such that the issue was highlighted on a national level.”
What impact do you hope your writing will have?
“The purpose was simply to bring attention to the discrepancies in media coverage that female athletes face throughout their entire basketball careers. Calling attention to these discrepancies is the best we can do until we get more women into positions that promote women's sports.”
What’s it like being a student athlete at Smith?
“It’s busy. We are responsible for everything other Smithies would do, plus a full-time job. I was a small forward on the basketball team, and I have played on the team for all fours years at Smith. It’s physically and mentally intense, but you learn about yourself in a way that is unique. You learn how strong you can be and where your limitations are.”
Can you describe the new diversity initiatives underway in Smith athletics?
“I am incredibly impressed with the Sports Committee for Inclusion and Diversity. As a co-founder, I’ve watched the group blossom from six students to over 40 members from almost every sports team in the athletics department. This past year we have had the Voices and Faces Project in full swing, in which we hear from students of color about their experience at Smith and specifically their journey with their sport. We also had an incredible Empower Conference featuring notable keynote speakers and small breakout seminars. It’s a really good feeling to be graduating next month knowing that I’m leaving Smith having helped the department by co-founding SCID.”